Airdate: Mar 20, 2017
Scientist: Marcella Kelly
Tracking Cats - Remote Cameras
You'd think being such large animals, that we'd know more about them.
Tracking Cats Remote Cameras.
Ambience: Roar of Siberian and Bengal Tigers
Large cats, like the tiger, have not been faring very well across the globe. And until relatively recently they've bee hard to track and monitor. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Marcella Kelly is a professor in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech.
Kelly: You would think being such large animals that we would know more about them, but really not until the advent of remote camera trapping on kind of a large scale were we able to actually count animals. Before that it was mostly radio telemetry, collaring individuals - which gives you good information on movement, but it's harder to get at things like is the population increasing or decreasing. So that has been a difficult nut to crack until the late 90s, early 2000s, and into the more recent years as camera technology has increased and improved.
Remotely triggered infrared cameras are triggered by heat and motion of a passing animal and so they will take photographs of animals that pass in front of the camera anytime of day or night. So they are motion-heat activated and they run 24/7 so we will get photographs of animals at any point, basically.
We've been learning some really interesting things. I think first of all, the fact that you can estimate population size or number of animals in an area without ever seeing them first hand is pretty remarkable. So I think that that is one of the major advances that we've had with using this remote camera photography. I will also say that it does require that the individual animals have unique spot patterns. You have to be able to count them by identifying them down to individual by their spot patterns. That's pretty fun to do in the lab, actually. We involve a lot of students with that in my research.
We'll hear more about tracking big cats in future programs. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.